US & Canada

NFL star Junior Seau death ruled suicide

A memorial in front of Junior Seau's home 3 May 2012
Image caption Fans left flowers and memorabilia in front of Seau's house in Oceanside, California

Former American football star Junior Seau took his own life, a California coroner has confirmed, ruling that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Seau, a 1990s star with the San Diego Chargers, was found unconscious by his girlfriend on Wednesday.

His death follows the 2011 suicide of former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson.

The two deaths have led to questions about the effect of concussions on the brains of professional football stars.

Recent studies have found a connection between repeated concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease with symptoms including memory loss and mood swings.

On Thursday, a more than a hundred former National Football League players filed a lawsuit claiming the National Football League (NFL) deliberately hid the dangers of concussions from them.

They join an additional 1,500 former NFL players who have put their names to similar lawsuits.

Officials said they were waiting for Seau family's to decide on whether to turn over his brain to outside researchers.

The former linebacker's ex-wife, Gina, told the Associated Press that Seau had sustained concussions during his lengthy career, but did not know if they contributed to his death.

In 2010 he drove his car off a cliff, hours after he had been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Seau starred with his hometown San Diego Chargers for 13 years before playing with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.

He was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 2010.

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